2019 In Review: The Best Of Inc42


As the year comes to a close, here’s a look back at the major news stories, features, data stories and events that Inc42 brought to the Indian startup ecosystem in 2019

This article is part of Inc42’s special year-end series — 2019 In Review — in which we will refresh your memory on the major developments in the Indian startup ecosystem and their impact on various stakeholders — from entrepreneurs to investors. You can read more stories from this series here.

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning –TS Eliot 

As the curtain falls on 2019, Inc42 is taking a look back at our coverage over the past 12 months to recall our achievements, milestones and growth so far. India has had an eventful year to say the least — and we have already recapped some of these highlights in our 2019 in Review series. It gives us so much joy to share that Inc42 didn’t just do what it does best but also took up new endeavors and aced them. 

We have expanded this year. With some highly talented professionals joining our team, our coverage is now wider and deeper than ever.

This year we published more than 5,300 stories, which reached over 20 million people every month. Besides this, Inc42 organised 19 events bringing the ecosystem together at various times and with different agendas — in particular, the BIGShift series took an expanded form with a six-city tour — and DataLabs by Inc42 published over 19 reports and research articles on the ecosystem. 

This year, we dug deeper to get more exclusive stories and original insights than ever before.

Exclusive: Quikr Lays Off Up To 2000 Employees In Aftermath Of Major Scam

Exclusive: Doodhwala Employees Also File FIR Against Founders Over Unpaid Salaries

Exclusive: Reliance Acquires Majority Stake In Deeptech Startup Tesseract

Exclusive: Behind Amazon India’s Food Delivery Platform Coming This December

Exclusive: Vijay Shekhar Sharma Backs Up Admiration For Nurturing Green With Investment

Exclusive: Social Commerce Startup Wooplr Shuts Down As Merger Talks Fall Through

Exclusive: Government Says No Plan To Create 1 Lakh Digital Villages, Reveals RTI

Inc42 would also like to take this opportunity to give a shoutout to you. While we were busy garnering startup stories or brainstorming to hook you in with our events, our readers showered us with love and support. 

Inc42’s Biggest Stories Of The Year

We began the year with the Inc42 Startup Watchlist of the most promising startups in India. As was expected, many of these have gone on to clinch funding this year to validate our predictions. 

As it is said old habits are hard to die, so Inc42 revived the much-loved Moneyball series in the middle of the year as VCs and investors opened up about the new India and their approach to investments. 

Here are some of the best Moneyball stories from the year:

Moneyball: Lightspeed’s Vaibhav Agrawal On Converting Startup Ideas Into Numbers

Moneyball: Aavishkaar’s Anurag Agrawal On Investing For Social Change

Moneyball: BV Naidu On Why StartupXseed Targets Low Investment Size And Prefers Faster Exits

Our signature ‘What The Financial’ series went through a major revamp this year as well. Inc42 laid bare the financial performance of startups and analyzed what makes the company tick and where it is losing money. Here’s our pick of the best:

[What The Financials] Heavy Discounts Helped Grofers Boost Revenue But Expenses Eat Up Growth

[What The Financials] Despite TikTok Success, ByteDance Earned Almost Nothing From India Business In FY19

[What The Financials] Ola’s Path To Profitability, IPO Blocked By Losses In Food, Vehicle Leasing

[What The Financials] Dunzo Comes Undone With No Real Revenue And Towering Expenses

[What The Financials] PhonePe Continues To Burn Cash But Revenue Grows 4X

And while unicorns go through growth pains, soonicorns represent the next big hope for the Indian startup ecosystem. The Inc42 UpNext series captures the mood at soonicorns and their plotting to reach the unicorn club. Here’s a selection:  

Inc42 UpNext: Nazara Bets On Its Gaming Ecosystem To Get India To Pay To Play

Inc42 UpNext: Livspace Fuels India’s Appetite For Home, Interior Design With Omnichannel Play

Inc42 UpNext: UrbanClap On Designing AI Systems To Expand And Scale Up Sustainably

Inc42 UpNext: Can Zerodha’s Million-Strong Investor Base Hold Its Digital Investment Fort?

Inc42 UpNext: How Capital Float Is Fighting SME Lending Battles On The Unicorn Path

Datalabs By Inc42 Shines

It was a great year for DataLabs by Inc42 as the team of analysts, data engineers and researchers dug out the most insightful trends of the ecosystem across sectors and for various quarters. The DataLabs team also plays the role of the data enabler for the Inc42 editorial stories and many of our biggest stories this year would not have been possible without this invaluable support. 

In addition, DataLabs gave us in-depth articles about the scope of Indian drone and aerospace startups in the well-received feature — ‘To Infinity And Beyond: India’s Aerospace Startups Are Starting To Blow Their Thrusters’. It turned its attention to the foodtech industry amid protests from restaurants. Read ‘The Dark Side Of Discounts: Lessons From Zomato Gold For India’s Food Startups’ to know more about the DataLabs insights.


Here are some interesting reads from the DataLabs vault this year: 

Why It’s Time To Take Notice Of India’s Evolving Food Service Market

Why Data Is Not Oil: Here’s How India’s Data Localisation Norms Will Hurt The Economy

Japanese Investors In India Are Placing Safe Bets As They Chase The Billion-Dollar Dream

Are Investments In Indian Startups Slowing Down? Here’s The Base Year Fallacy

Union Budget 2019: Sitharaman’s Fresh Ideas To Push India’s Towards A Digital Economy

See all stories from DataLabs by Inc42 here.

Inc42’s Top Stories Of 2019

Finally, we produced stories that not only changed the narrative of the industry but also enabled players to raise important questions, debate over policy decisions, analyse market trends and perceive the changes as they happen. 

Here are the top news stories from this year: 

Exclusive: Amit Bhardwaj And The GainBitcoin Investor Saga Lands On President Kovind’s Desk

The main accused in the massive GainBitcoin scam case, Amit Bhardwaj, in September, filed a separate application in the Supreme Court of India, seeking to deposit INR 2 Cr in lieu of Supreme Court’s order of depositing INR 10 Cr within six month period, which was passed on April 3, 2019.

Sex Sells, So Why Not Sexual Wellness? India’s Startups On Emerging From The Shadows

Flipkart Video Originals Are Here: Has Flipkart Got The Timing Right?

Production houses such as Studio Next, Frames and Sikhya Productions will be bringing original content across languages and genres to Flipkart Video Originals, said Flipkart said in a press statement.

White Revolution 2.0: Dairy Tech Startups Rise On India’s Cow-Friendly Policies

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, India produces 160 Mn tonnes of milk in over 75 Mn dairy farms per year for a market that is worth around $30 Bn. The country is the second-largest milk producer after the US.

Searching For Superman

Indians, nowadays, are overtly dependent on apps, which take precious space on smartphones. However, Tapzo (one of India’s earlier super apps) founder Ankur Singla, in a blog post in 2017, said that almost all apps (except for the top 5-8 apps) see 60-80% uninstall rate within 90 days of users installing the app.

All That Glitters Is Not Gold: The Hard To Digest Economics Of Zomato, Swiggy & Co

The Economics Of Foodtech Part 2: The Math Behind Cloud Kitchens In India

One of Delhi’s first cloud kitchen restaurateurs and owner of 11 online kitchens across Delhi and Mumbai, Madhav Kasturia, told Inc42, “We started four years ago with a high street restaurant but soon realised that paying INR 45K on just rent for the orders we were raking in was too high, so in a year we pivoted.”

Indian Govt Requests Maximum Social Media Content Takedowns In The World

The “which government censors online data the most” report states that social media platforms and global technology companies have received as many as  77,620 takedown content requests from India in a span of nine years. 

‘I Do’: How Indian Couples Today Are Tying The Knot With Wedding Tech Startups

Exclusive: 100X.VC Fund’s Sanjay Mehta On Creating A Finishing School For Startup Founders

“Think of us as a finishing school for founders who have no idea how to raise money. Our aim for this class is to get everyone 100% placement among VCs,” said serial investor Sanjay Mehta.

Inc42’s Stellar Events 

Last but not least, Inc42 expanded its repertoire of events this year! Inc42’s events are not just for the glamour and glitz but for networking and connecting. Any recap of 2019 will remain incomplete if we do not mention the VC Dinner and BIGShift series.

VC Dinner, which was supported by HSBC, commenced on November 28, 2019, in Bengaluru. The event brought together the decision-makers of the investment world for interesting collaborations, global connections, cross learnings, and umpteen interesting stories. 

The latest edition of BIGShift — an initiative to enable, engage and empower startups in India’s Tier 2 cities — saw more than 350 attendees and more than 30 pitches. This year’s BIGShift events were also attended by more than 300 startups in six cities — Kochi, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Vizag, Chandigarh and Indore. 

Here are some stories of startups discovered at the BIGShift events.

Discovered at Inc42 BIGShift: Vizag Edtech Startup Botclub Is Helping Kids Discover The Joy Of Science

Discovered At Inc42 BIGShift: Raipur’s Minocular Takes The SaaS Route To Boost Mining Efficiency, Safety

Discovered At Inc42 BIGShift: Indore’s ClassMonitor Takes Students Back To Tradition With Hybrid Digital Learning

Other events by Inc42 that grabbed limelight this year include Founders Meetup 10 By Inc42; The Dialogue By Inc42 And Ikigai Law; Pulse42, Mumbai: The Pulse Of Tech and Huddle Kerala.

Like every year, Inc42 is wrapping up this year with the year-ender series — ‘2019 in Review’. For the year 2020, we are lining up our signature Startup Watchlist, which is coming next month, along with the usual dose of exclusive scoops, insights and data about the Indian startup ecosystem! 

Have a great new year and all the best for 2020 and beyond from Team Inc42

Note: The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views held by Inc42, its creators or employees. Inc42 is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by guest bloggers.

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